It’s “fit” week here at the HR Introvert. Does anyone really know what that word means?
If I asked you to sketch a typical jigsaw puzzle piece, you would likely draw something that looks like a box or rectangle with a combination of two appendages and two cutouts. The standard non-edge piece. In practice, even in a puzzle that has only those kind of pieces, each one has a unique profile so that there is only one perfect-fit place for that puzzle piece.
Here’s the thing about “fit” in a human system: It is fleeting at best.
Things change. Employees leave on their own or are promoted, leaving a new opening for a new puzzle piece. Even if a team remains unchanged, each person in the team is hopefully growing in capability and productivity. Human systems are dynamic, even in the moment.
Diversity is about difference. Each member of a team brings unique experience, talents, and points of view. And those combined will not be the same as the last person in the role. In fact, the real value comes from bringing new, differing, and challenging points of view into the team. This is where innovation is born.
When we focus on fit, we run the risk of losing out on the potential advantage of a “differently experienced” person. If I were looking for someone to join my team who had the necessary change management experience, it would be easy for me to find lots of candidates from diverse backgrounds. I could, without too much effort, find some candidates who look much different from me – say a younger female candidate who was not Caucasian – and at the same time be too similar to me. If we had a similar background in change management, both worked in manufacturing and maybe had similar degrees, I might conclude that this is the perfect addition to the team. Someone who is just like me, and at the same time adds to the diversity of my team.
What I really need is someone who can understand our change management practice, but who has experience with other approaches that may lead us to a better hybrid. Someone who can say “Have you ever considered…..” and then offers ideas that we hadn’t considered. Something we could discuss, debate, and build on. That’s what diversity brings.
Won’t it be great when we all understand that diversity leads to a better team result, and not a better team photo?
That’s the main point of fit week. It is very important that we bring together people who can work effectively together. But that doesn’t mean people who can work without debate and without conflict. People who blend so well together that we get the most average result possible.
Fit is important. So is friction.